“Red Robin… Yum,” as the slogan goes. Except in this case, “yuck” would be the more appropriate interjection, after news was released that an ill restaurant worker in Missouri may have exposed upwards of 5,000 customers to the Hepatitis A. In response, a shipment of vaccines has been sent to Springfield to combat a potential outbreak.
According to the Huffington Post on Thursday, county health officials announced that customers who visited the chain's location on S. Glenstone Ave. in Springfield between May 8 and May 16 may have been exposed to the highly contagious Hep-A virus. The infected employee worked for months at the location however before any illness was reported, so the number of exposed workers and patrons may in fact be well over 5,000. Springfield, a city in southwest Missouri, has a population of 160,000.
Red Robin Gourmet Burgers issued the following statement: "Upon being informed of the incident, the Springfield Red Robin took all safety measures to ensure the well being of our guests and team members including arranging the inoculation of all Springfield team members with the immune globulin prophylaxis shot."
Springfield-Greene County Health Department officials are working with the CDC and state officials to import enough vaccines so that those thought exposed between May 8 and the 16 can be inoculated, reports KSDK.com out of Springfield. Officials said they are looking at a narrow window to get the vaccines shipped and administered.
"If the vaccine is not taken within 14 days of the time exposed, it doesn't work,” county health department director Kevin Gipson said. "So we are really on the clock, which is why we are doing this very quickly and we need your help to get the information out."
Hepatitis A onsets as an acute disease of the liver, caused by an infectious virus. Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, yellow skin, fever, and abdominal pain. The virus can easily be transmitted through contact. It is usually spread by eating or drinking food or water contaminated with fecal matter. Even microscopic amounts can carry the virus.
The Red Robin location has since passed a state health inspection and has been reopened for business.